Trip Report - Japan 5/2019 UPDATED 9/19!! ABD Day 7 - Seaside Bound - Takayama and the road to Odawara

Mathmagicland

Disneyland - the original since 1955
Joined
Jul 26, 2014
Japan is beautiful, the people are fabulous and so far, the activities have been stellar! James and Tomomi are fantastic Adventure Guides, and those on the June 2nd trip will have them as their Guides.
James and Tomomi are wonderful, I’m happy to see you are enjoying Kyoto!
 

sayhello

Have Camera, Will Travel
Joined
Oct 28, 2006
Woke up this morning at the Hotel Associa Takayama! Spectacular mountain views that I unfortunately can't take a picture of yet because the sun is right over the mountains. but soon!

Fun day yesterday with the sumo demonstration and the beautiful Fushimi Inari Shrine and Torii Trail, and the huge bronze Buddha. Looking forward to Shirakawa-go today!! Happy Birthday to me!

Sayhello
 
  • Mathmagicland

    Disneyland - the original since 1955
    Joined
    Jul 26, 2014
    Woke up this morning at the Hotel Associa Takayama! Spectacular mountain views that I unfortunately can't take a picture of yet because the sun is right over the mountains. but soon!

    Fun day yesterday with the sumo demonstration and the beautiful Fushimi Inari Shrine and Torii Trail, and the huge bronze Buddha. Looking forward to Shirakawa-go today!! Happy Birthday to me!

    Sayhello
    Have a wonderful birthday in Takayama, it will surely be one to remember!
     
  • EllinK

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Oct 28, 2012
    I love that you booked this incredible trip for your birthday! Hope you are having a fabulous day.
     

    sayhello

    Have Camera, Will Travel
    Joined
    Oct 28, 2006
    I love that you booked this incredible trip for your birthday! Hope you are having a fabulous day.
    Thanks! I find it a fabulous way to celebrate! The Adventure Guides always make it special! It was the best day! :)
    Did the reports of possible volcanic activity at Hakone affect you guys? This is from 6 days ago. Haven't found anything since.
    I've heard zero about this, so the answer would be no, I guess. We were way more impacted by road closures for Trump's visit.

    Sayhello
     

    *WDW*Groupie*

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Oct 2, 2006
    @sayhello I am super excited to hear about the finer details of your trip!

    If you have a moment to spare (and happen to be reading here), any insight on the weather? Is it very humid? Is the heat manageable?
    Any rain on the trip?

    We leave on Wednesday afternoon and I'm trying to do my last bit of packing!
     

    sayhello

    Have Camera, Will Travel
    Joined
    Oct 28, 2006
    @sayhello I am super excited to hear about the finer details of your trip!

    If you have a moment to spare (and happen to be reading here), any insight on the weather? Is it very humid? Is the heat manageable?
    Any rain on the trip?

    We leave on Wednesday afternoon and I'm trying to do my last bit of packing!
    We really lucked out with the weather. It sprinkled a bit in the evening of Day 2, but that was it. It's been sunny and beautiful. It's been REALLY hot in Tokyo, but no humidity. But the Guides keep saying this is all unusual.

    Sayhello
     
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    *WDW*Groupie*

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Oct 2, 2006
    We really lucked out with the weather. It sprinkled a bit in the evening of Day 2, but that was it. It's been sunny and beautiful. It's been REALLY hot in Tokyo, but no humidity. But the Gudes keep saying this is all unusual.

    Sayhello
    Thank you so much!

    I can hardly believe you are already in Tokyo. Time must be really flying for you!
     

    sayhello

    Have Camera, Will Travel
    Joined
    Oct 28, 2006
    So here we go, starting my actual Trip Report! Sorry it took so long to start, but I had the worst jetlag *EVER* coming back from Japan. I'm pretty much over it now, but it took forever! BUT it was TOTALLY, COMPLETELY worth it to take this magnificent trip!

    Day A – Travel and Arrival in Kyoto

    Getting to Japan was a LONG travel day for me. I started in Columbus early morning, had a 2 hour lay-over in Chicago, flew straight to Tokyo (13 hours), then a two and a half hour layover in Tokyo to fly to Osaka. It was honestly a pretty un-eventful flight, which was great for me! The only issue was the layover in Tokyo, because I rushed to get to the domestic terminal, and there was practically nothing there (just a stand selling noodles that didn’t smell particularly enticing, and only TWO toilets for everyone!) It was also really hot. But overall, that was not a big deal in the grand scheme of things.

    I and my luggage all made it safely to Osaka in the early evening, where I and another couple were picked up and vanned it to the Hyatt Regency Kyoto. It was getting pretty late at that point, and I was fading fast, so I was really glad I didn’t have to get myself to the hotel! We got checked in, and they had the concierge walk me to my room. She grabbed my carryon and my personal item from me (nicely!) and took me up, showed me the basics, asked if I had any questions, and I asked if my suitcase would be up soon. At which point she flinched, said “Suitcase?” and then said "Yes, of course." Next thing I knew, I had a call from the front desk saying they’d accidentally sent my suitcase up to the other couple’s room, and could they please bring it to my room now? I said “Of course!” They were SO apologetic!! It was just an honest mistake, but they seemed mortified! This was just a glimpse into the service and attitudes I saw in the Japanese people during my trip, and let me just say, it was a pleasure and a joy to deal with them! I don’t think it’s a spoiler to tell you that up front!!!

    The room was a nice size, and quite comfortable. I believe the beds were full-size, not queen size. It was OK for one person, but I'm not sure how it worked for 2 people who wanted to be in the same bed.

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    The hotel had an actual room that was both the shower and the tub. You closed the frosted glass door, and the drain was just in a corner of the room. It was really nice and spacious. I enjoyed it.

    The only problem I had was the toilet (as turned out to be common here) was an ultra-fancy Toto toilet, with all sorts of features and controls, and had a heated seat. I guess it's sacrilegious, and I was definitely in the minority, but I really did not care for the heated seat. I found it uncomfortable, and it made the little room the toilet was in ridiculously hot & humid. Luckily, I was able to figure out how to turn the heat off, so I was good at least at this hotel.

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    I exchanged messages with a woman, MB, who I had met in an online group, who I had found was also going to be on this trip with her sister. We exchanged some messages, and decided to meet up for breakfast the next morning. I unpacked enough to get ready for bed, and then crashed! The next day was the first day of the ABD, but there was really nothing going on, so my plan was to sleep in, then see what happens!

    Day 01 – OYO and Konnichiwa Kyoto

    Although today is officially the first day of the ABD, there is nothing going on for this first day beyond meeting with our Adventure Guides and an "at your leisure" included dinner at the hotel. I woke up at a pretty reasonable time, considering, finished unpacking (since I was in this hotel for 5 nights), got ready, set up a time to meet MB and her sister at the buffet for breakfast, and then decided to head to the local 7-Eleven where there was an ATM. Somehow, I had completely forgotten to order Yen before I left! I really meant to, but forgot, and by the time I realized, it was too late. The concierge gave me directions to the nearest 7-Eleven with an ATM, which was a 10-minute walk away, and since I had plenty of time until I was meeting MB, I headed out. The weather was truly spectacular! Sunny and crisp with blue skies. I loved the walk!

    I then headed back to meet MB for breakfast. We ended up in the “quiet” room (which ended up being where breakfast was with ABD the next morning). They had the same food as the main buffet area, which was apparently totally full. It was a decent buffet. I really enjoyed meeting MB and her sister; they seemed like people I had a lot in common with, and would enjoy spending time with!

    After breakfast, we then headed over to meet our Adventure Guides, James and Tomomi. What wonderful, sweet people they are!

    We discussed the trip, my food restrictions, etc. I got some ideas for what to do with my morning, chatted some more. They also mentioned that they’d rearranged just a bit, and the “at your leisure” dinner for the first night had been moved to Day 7, which was supposed to be Dinner OYO. But since they’d advertised that first night’s dinner was included, they gave us a voucher to have dinner in one of the hotel restaurants good for that first night only. So we actually got an extra meal included.

    On my way out of the hotel, I stopped by the concierge desk to get directions for my afternoon activity. I’d signed up through Viator for a “Lunch with a Local”, where I was paired up with a Kyoto local who would do a cooking demo, and then we’d lunch on what she cooked. I ended up being asked to join an existing group, which was fine with me. It didn’t start until 1pm, so I decided to head over to the Sanjūsangen-dō Temple, which is just up the street from the hotel.

    Right across the street from the hotel is a Museum, I forget the name. It was quite an imposing looking complex!

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    It took minutes to get to the Temple.

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    There was a Guard at the entrance who was really quite adamant about where you could and could not walk in the parking lot. I'm sure it was for safety reasons.

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    The Sanjūsangen-dō Temple is really beautiful, in a green, serene setting. It’s the first place where I had to remove my shoes, place them in a cubby, and walk in stocking feet.

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    The grounds are lovely, but the highlight of this Temple is the 1001 wooden statues of Kannon. I didn’t really know what to expect, but you walk into the area where they are, on bleacher-type steps above you, 10-deep, which means there are 100 rows of these statues, all standing shoulder to shoulder with each other. The impact is really quite overwhelming! No photos are allowed, but I actually don’t think photos would in any way convey the vastness of this display.

    After that, I did a little more wandering on the lovely grounds.

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    I then eventually headed back over to the hotel to change for my lunch. Then I caught a taxi, and gave him the map and instructions that the concierge had given me. (The concierge had actually called my hostess, because the address was a bit ambiguous - it wasn’t really in a commercial area). I got to the spot where the map said to drop me, paid the taxi, then off he went. I looked around, and couldn’t quite reconcile the map to what I was seeing. I stopped a man walking by, who spoke perfect English, and he puzzled it out with me, and we eventually figured out what building it was, and I headed down the outside walkway.

    Unfortunately, I found the address I had was in regular numbers, but none of the doors had numbers over them, just Japanese characters. So I walked up & down, and found a mailbox that said “Cooking School” on it. (The woman doing the demo, Midori Nukumizu, ran a cooking school, and did these small groups on the weekends). The demo was in her studio. I rang the bell, and she opened a window, and asked “Tobi-san?” I replied, "Yes, Midori-sensei", and felt quite proud of myself (except I think that was pretty much the only time I remembered to use the Japanese honorary). She came and opened the traditional sliding door. I took off my shoes and put on a pair of slippers she had, then waited for the other couple who were in the group to arrive.

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    Continued in next post.
     
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